* * *
I stare at my reflection in the mirror. The pain I see is beginning to look normal and that worries me. I sigh, hanging my head leaning on the sink. "How did I not see this coming?" My shoulders shake as I silently sob with the realization that my future isn’t going to belong to me. It is going to belong to a man who has agreed to marry me, but who I detest. Not because he is a bad man, which he is, or because he is a power hungry politician, which he is, but because he is being manipulated by the monster that did this to me. I lift my face to stare at the black eye that stares back.
A week ago, my stepfather and I got in a row over my future. "Darsh wants to be my chief of staff." His smug look disgusted me. "But I’ve told him the only way I’ll appoint him is if he agrees to take you off my hands. I want you OUT of my house. You WILL marry him." His laugh was cruel.
"I will NOT!" I stood toe to toe to him and hissed. "You don’t own me!"
"Don’t I? I have provided everything for you, you ungrateful little bitch!"
"You can’t make me marry him."
"Oh, yes, I can." His voice dropped deadly low and what he said next, set my fate. "You will do it or I will divorce your mother."
"You wouldn't dare!"
I knew he was ruthless enough to do anything to stay in power. Even destroy the one person in his life who is good and pure, and who truly loves him, my mum.
"YOU FUCKING CUNT!" I yelled in his face.
He grabbed my arm and spun me around. I didn’t see his sucker punch coming until it was inches from my face. He hit me hard enough to blacken my eye, but his words knocked the wind out of me. "This is a little taste of the way Darsh will control you. You will be wise to learn to do what you’re told." He laughed and it was pure evil.
I splash water on my face again and ask my reflection. "How did this happen to me? How did I get in this predicament?" I hang my head and sob, letting the memory of the only man I’ve ever loved enter my mind. His thick black hair, olive skin tone, big brown eyes framed by black eyebrows, and his wide, generous smile that flashes perfect straight white teeth comes clearly into focus as if the last time I saw him was yesterday instead of six years ago. Captain America, Dirk Sam; he was the first American I ever met. I’ve met many since then, but he was the first and at eighteen years old I fell hopelessly in love with him. Then he vanished without saying good-bye.
I sigh again, splash water on my face letting the liquid cleanse the tears away. Then I take a deep breath, square my shoulders, and wonder at my reflection. "Time is running out. What are you going to do?" I dry my face, then grab my backpack. "Pray for a miracle ... again."